I wanted to be a heart surgeon when I was growing up. I wanted to understand, fix, and heal. I knew the arteries, atriums, ventricles and valves. I knew muscle, fascia, and fat. I don't recall ever thinking much about the beat, that's what a heart is supposed to do.
Then, I lay on an exam table waiting to hear a heartbeat for the very first time. And never did.
I was greeted with silence again many, many months later. Different office, different doctor, same vacuum of nothing.
Hope is a tricky thing; effervescent even when you're trying to tamp it down. Years later, when I finally heard a heartbeat it was miraculous and there was nothing to do but cry over that tiny fragile connection to a dream come true.
Each visit for my two babies included that moment where time stops, breathing ceases, and the tendrils of fear start to curl up around heavy limbs until, like magic, the steady sound of blood whooshing through vessels whispered into the room and blew the threat of panic away.
I remember my sadness at the final appointment, knowing that it was the last time I'd hear that secret sound that echoed promise with each little swish. My babies knew my heartbeat but I knew theirs too.
Last week I had to take Sweetpea to see the pediatric cardiologist (she's fine.) She solemnly climbed up onto the bed, the warm gel and wand were applied and suddenly, miraculously, I was listening to that secret sound again. I was so focused on my little girl that I hadn't even considered what they were actually going to do and, when that steady whooshing filled the room I was stunned with the familiar sense of relief and miracle. A promise I hadn't ever expected to hear again that hadn't lost one iota of its meaning and power.